Volunteer Event 11th October – More Muddy Marshes!

October 29, 2009

Min Toad Small Sep 09

Baby Toad Found In The Leaf Litter

Colin Gray writes:

Fleet Pond volunteers returned to Fugelmere Marsh for the October task to extend the clearance of alder and sallow scrub.  This large open marsh has become a small forest of regenerating scrub; some almost young trees now. It was a damp day so the volunteers were open to muddy water below and drizzling rain from above ensuring we were all very wet at the end of the day.  Never the less a lot was achieved and the volunteers have opened a wide vista across the marsh to the reedbed beyond.

David Buckler, leader for the day, has a herbicide license and was able to treat a lot of the scrub stumps which will hopefully constrain further regeneration.  Herbicide has usually been around 60% successful thus reducing manual labour in following seasons.

Photo credit: Michelle Salter (taken at the related volunteer event on Sunday 13 September).


Ranger’s Notebook – What To Look For In Autumn

October 16, 2009

Joanna Lawrence, the Fleet Pond Ranger, writes:

As winter draws in there seems to still be plenty of wildlife to see around Fleet Pond.  Many birds will be feeding themselves up for the winter by feasting on berries and seeds, and bats can still be seen flying around at dusk.  Bats are very busy at this time of year as the males continue looking for females to mate with, while at the same time searching for suitable winter hibernation sites and building up their fat reserves for the winter by feeding on insects.  One adult bat can eat about 3,000 insects in one night.

southern hawker sm

Southern Hawker Dragonfly

If you see any large dragonflies still flying this late in the year, they are Hawkers, the largest type of dragonfly in Britain which can be found flying until late October.  Any seen at Fleet Pond are most likely to be Southern Hawkers, a very beautiful blue, green and black dragonfly, or maybe Brown Hawkers, which have distinctive brown wings.  Common Darters, a smaller red dragonfly, may also be seen until early November.

spiders web sm

Web Of The European Garden Spider

This photo of a spider’s web in the early morning dew was taken on Wood Lane Heath.  The spider that makes these webs is the European Garden Spider, Araneus diadematus. You have probably seen many of these spiders in your garden at this time of year hanging upside-down in the centre of its web.  These are known as the orb web spiders as they create this orb web in order to catch prey.  Not all spiders however make this type of web.  Some families of spider hunt visually and stalk their prey, and then there are numerous different types of spun webs with many families spinning their own variation.

fly agaric sm

Fly Agaric Fungus

Autumn is also a time of the year when the majority of our fungi are fruiting, like the poisonous species Fly Agaric.  This species is easily recognisable due to its bright red colour and can be seen in many places around Fleet Pond.  The one in the photo above was taken at Sandy Bay.

The part of the fungi that you can see is the fruiting body containing the spores, similar to the fruits and seeds produced by plants. The rest of the fungi is hidden underground as thin white threads known as Mycelium.

By breaking down dead organic material, fungi continue the cycle of nutrients through ecosystems. The majority of plants and trees on earth could not grow without the mycelium that inhabit their roots and supply them with essential nutrients. Look out for the multitude of fungi in bloom at this time of year.

(Please note that it is illegal to pick or remove fungi from Fleet Pond Local Nature Reserve.)

Wildlife Walk – What Have You Spotted At The Pond?

October 7, 2009


Peter Hutchins, Basingstoke RSPB writes:

On Saturday 26th September 2009, I led a group of 22 wildlife watchers on a walk that covered the north-eastern /eastern side of the pond and the adjacent wood and heathland. A temperature in the high teens and the lack of wind, due primarily to the woodland cover, ensured a pleasant walk that lasted for a little over 1½ hours; the mid-afternoon sun being particularly obvious as the group lingered on the Boathouse jetty at the north-eastern corner of the pond towards the end of this time in the field.

For those of a listing nature, please find below the species that were recorded during the walk:

  1. Mute Swan Cygnus olor
  2. Canada Goose Branta canadensis
  3. Teal Anas crecca: three duck / eclipse drake were on the marsh below Sandhills Viewpoint
  4. Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
  5. Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus: 15 were active about the pond
  6. Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo: three were on wooden ‘platforms’ within the pond
  7. Grey Heron Ardea cinerea: one was heard
  8. Water Rail Rallus aquaticus: two were vocal in the marsh at Sandhills Viewpoint
  9. Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
  10. Coot Fulica atra
  11. Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus: three endlessly moved about the pond
  12. Herring Gull Larus argentatus: an adult was seen on the pond
  13. Woodpigeon Columba palumbus
  14. Green Woodpecker Picus viridis: at least two birds were seen with another being heard
  15. Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major: two were seen, albeit briefly, with at least another two being heard
  16. Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis: just two were noted moving overhead, both heard vocalising
  17. Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
  18. Robin Erithacus rubecula
  19. Blackbird Turdus merula
  20. Song Thrush Turdus philomelus
  21. Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita: a single bird was seen among a mixed feeding flock
  22. Goldcrest Regulus regulus
  23. Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
  24. Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus
  25. Great Tit Parus major
  26. Coal Tit Periparus ater
  27. Treecreeper Certhia familiaris: an all too elusive bird was heard
  28. Jay Garrulus glandarius: two were seen, one lingering in the open
  29. Magpie Pica pica
  30. Jackdaw Corvus monedula
  31. Carrion Crow Corvus corone
  32. Starling Sturnus vulgaris
  33. Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis: one preening in trees by the jetty remained vocal throughout its’ prolonged stay 
  34. Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis: three were seen, all being fairly confiding
  35. Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas: one showed especially well as it sunned itself on low vegetation
  36. Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae: one was seen high in an Oak canopy
  37. Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria: at least four were seen, two showing very well as they rested on sunlit leaves / fencing 
  38. Vapourer Orgyia antique: a male was seen on the wing
  39. Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea: one of these was seen over the marsh at Sandhills Viewpoint and then at least a further two were by the jetty
  40. Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum: at least eight were on the wing, including one pair in a ‘mating wheel’ 
  41. Wood Ant Formica rufa: several (!) were seen as a nest was disturbed 
  42. Common Wasp Vespa vulgaris: one was about the group at the end of the walk

Peter E. Hutchins

PS – Can you beat this? If you’ve made your own list, we’d love to hear from you!  



Photo credits: Michelle Salter

Volunteer Event This Sunday, 11 October

October 7, 2009

Colin Gray writes:

“I had a review of the Fugelmere Marsh this morning.  Despite recent rain the area we worked on in September is still accessible with care. I suggest we carry on with clearing the central area so that we can use the fire site again which is fairly central to the work area.

More rain is expected later today and on Friday so I will try to have another look Saturday morning.  In the event the water level rises higher, we can work on the woodland edge as this needs to be cut back further to improve the gradient of vegetation between the marsh and woodland.”

Further details on the volunteer event schedule and related matters can be found here and a description of the previous event is here.

Fleet Pond And Genealogy: The Military

October 2, 2009

army cook house at pond small

I recently came across an interesting discussion concerning tracking down someone’s great-grandfather who appears in the photo above.

If you have any information on the above photo, believed to be of the Manchester Regiment, please drop us a comment (see below this post), we’d be really fascinated to hear from you!

Regarding the role of the military at Fleet Pond, FPS Chairman Colin Gray writes:

“Fleet Pond was incorporated into the army training lands acquired in 1854 when the Aldershot Garrison was built.  It stayed with the army until 1972 by which time Fleet town had grown right up to the boundary of the pond. I suspect that it became unacceptable to have artillery training so close to residential areas, so Fleet Pond was made redundant and sold to Fleet UDC in January 1973 for £10,000. Hart Council inherited it in 1974 when FUDC was disbanded and Hart DC founded.”

We’ve managed to find a couple of related photos (see below) and Colin writes:

“The two photos are postcards that Percy Vickery has in his 900 strong collection of postcards of Fleet and Church Crookham.  There was nothing on them to indicate who the regiment was but I know that the Royal Engineers spent a lot of time exercising at Fleet Pond over the years.  They built the larger islands and at one time installed a steel bridge which spanned the pond from east to west. Sadly none of that remains today!”

army under canvas at pond small

bathers at pond small